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Luna

[Another one of our international contributors is Chris Kovac. Chris, a Canadian, has been a part of Gamers Alliance for years, doing his first review (of Byzantium designed by Martin Wallace) in the Spring 2006 issue. With this, his 24th review, Chris shares his view of a game by another successful designer, Stefan Feld, who is evidently a little “moonstruck”.]

(Z-Man Games, 1-4 players, ages 12 and up, 25 minutes per player; $49.99)

 

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

Luna is a worker placement game for up to four players with a very light mystical druid theme. This is a gamer’s game designed by Stefan Feld. This review will cover the basic game with four players and the basic preselected setup rules.

lunaboxThe “game board” actually consists of a main temple island board and seven smaller island boards. To start the game you assemble the main island with the central temple and the inner temple tiles and then surround it with the smaller outer islands in numbered sequence from one to seven. Next each person selects a color and then puts the respective pieces as shown on the island pieces. You will have six novice pieces on the outer islands and one shrine. You will have some pieces left over which can be placed during the game. Each outer island also will have a stack of four favour pieces which you will acquire during the game to perform special actions. You start with the two favours from islands which you do not have novice pieces on. On the main island you will place one novice with a book piece underneath them determined by a random draw. Finally you will place some figure pieces – Moon Priestess, Temple Guard, Builder and Apostate (more on them later in this review) on various spots on the islands and the central islands and your round council of priests marker on the zero marker in player turn order (determined randomly at the start).

Beginning with the start player, each player can now perform one action which “… affect one or more novices and/or consume a favour token.” Each action is shown on the well designed player aid and described in detail in the rule book and falls into one of four major types: Island actions, Movement actions, Temple actions and Miscellaneous actions. Each of these actions usually consists of moving one novice (if you have a shrine on the island) or two if you do not have a shrine on the island from the island to the surrounding sea. Novices on the islands are active and novices in the area surrounding the islands are considered to be inactive. Now onto the actions by type.

Island actions consist of :

Priests Favour – Moving the required number of novices off the island to the surrounding sea and get that island’s favour token. These are used as special actions and when used are returned to the appropriate island to be used again.

Recruit – Moving two novices off an island. You then place a novice from your reserve with the two you moved off which can be used the next round.

Shrine – Using up a build favour and moving two novices off the island with builder figure to build a shrine. Shrines can only be built on the islands with the builder figure using a shrine token and each player can only have one shrine on a island.

Herb – Using a herb token to move up to novices back onto one island (back to the active state)

Movement actions consist of:

Journey – Moving up to novices off an island to the inactive space surrounding another island(s).

Tide – Expend a tide token to take as many of your tokens from the sea surrounding the islands and/or from the islands and put them next to any islands you choose.

Sailboat – Expend a sailboat token to move up to two novices from one island to another. These novices are still to be active.

Temple Actions

lunapcsThese are actions involving the central temple island. Before I explain the actions some explanation of the temple and its pieces are necessary. The temple island consists of a central temple area showing numbered tile space each with a picture matching one of the island favour tokens and a number. Surrounding this a temple path consisting of temple tiles (one tile for each inner temple space) which are ordered in sequential order broken at set intervals by guard tiles. You also have a council of priests track, the observatory space to store victory point markers and the meditation room which holds the meditation markers (used to end the round). You will have a marker on the council of priests and one novice marker on one of the four lowest numbered spaces in the temple spaces on top of a book marker. Now onto the Temple actions:

Promotion- In this action you move the appropriate number of novices off an island. One will go to a tile matching the symbol of the island from which you moved the novice off of. The only catch is that you can only move onto to a tile up to the temple guard or one section beyond the temple guard if you expend a money bag favour token. As the game progresses more tiles are available as the guard moves one guard tile per turn.

Sanctification – You move a piece from the temple track onto the main temple area with the same number discarding the temple tile in the process. When you perform this action you get victory point tokens equal to that show on the temple guard tile which the temple guard token is on. Also any novice tokens on adjacent tiles which do not have a book token and are on lower numbered temple tiles are removed from the temple and put on the dock space of the temple island (these can be recovered by players using tide or sailboat tokens). You get one victory point per novice marker removed in this way.

Book – Using a book favour to move a book token from one novice in the central temple to another (usually your own) . This gives you a victory point.

Council of Priests – You move any number of novices off any one island and advance that many spaces on the council of priests track. This gives you bonus points at the end of the game but more importantly
it breaks any ties for end of round scoring. If two tile are on the same space the one on top is “higher” on the track.

The final set of actions are Miscellaneous actions which are:

Expulsion – One character figure on the board is the Apostate. Any players with novices on or next to the island with Apostate figure at the end of the round lose that many victory points. Using this action you may move any number of novices off any island with the apostate and move the apostate that number of islands.

Novice – Use a novice token to count as a virtual novice to perform any action except temple promotion.

Meditation – You can turn over a mediation tile. The fourth tile turned over ends the round and gives the player who turned it over one victory point. You also become first player for the next round.

At the end of the round (when the fourth meditation tile is turned over) you get one victory point for each novice in the temple. Also on the island with the priestess figure the player with the most active novices on the island with get six points, the one with the second most three point and the one with the third most one point. You then advance the figure on the islands (six island space for the priestess, four for the builder and one for the apostate). You also advance the temple guard one temple guard marker space discarding the old temple guard marker. Novices are moved back onto the islands and you proceed with the next round.

The game ends after six rounds when the temple guard moves to the last temple marker space. One more round is played and scored then a final scoring takes place. For each shrine you get four victory points and each favour token one point. You get a variable number of victory points depending where you council of priest marker is on the council of priests track (up to ten points). You then add up your victory point token and the player with the most victory points is the winner.

Luna is a very well produced game with good pieces, a superb players aid and good rules. My only complaints would be the slightly confusing set rules (a diagram of the board would have been nice). and that the advanced game setup rules are a little vague (how exactly you place and distribute your pieces are not very well covered). The game has lots of strategy and player interaction as you try and coordinate you actions and favour tiles while balancing this against somebody ending the round or taking the favor token you need. Though the downtime can increase towards the end of the game, the relatively short turns means you are usually engaged throughout. The game is a bit complex for the casual or family gamer but is an excellent gamer’s game and one of the best games I have played so far this year.

 


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